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Review: Doctor Who: Jubilee by Rob Shearman

Doctor Who: Jubilee

“Jubilee” is probably best known as the inspiration for the instant classic episode, “Dalek.”

And while the two stories share the same starting point and a couple of story beats, there are enough differences to make enjoying both versions of this story a worthwhile experience.

Once again, Big Finish provides evidence that the sixth Doctor’s era could have been a classic if it had better scripts. Colin Baker’s work here is nothing short of superb, especially given that he’s allowed to play two distinct versions of the Doctor over the two-plus hours the story runs.

The Sixth Doctor and Evelyn become trapped in a parallel world — one where the Doctor led a major battle against the Daleks a hundred years before. Now, England is a world superpower and celebrating the anniversary of overthrowing the Daleks. But there are dark secrets hiding not only in an addition to the Tower of London but also the upper level of the Tower itself.

Rob Shearman’s script for “Jubilee” is simply gorgeous. Well, at least it is for three episodes before going a bit sideways in the final installment. (I’m not saying anything here Shearman himself hasn’t admitted in other forums). The idea of a lone Dalek being held prisoner and tortured into talking in here. If you’ve seen “Dalek,” odds are you will suss out the first cliffhanger fairly easily (even if you haven’t and just look at the cover, you will), but that’s part of the point of the story. Shearman toys with our expectations for Dalek stories from the classic era here all the while having bit of fun by subverting those expectations time and again.

The story makes some fascinating commentary on the commercialization of the Daleks (I find it ironic that they bring up that slapping a Dalek on something makes it a best-seller given the sheer amount of Doctor Who merchandise I keep seeing today) as well as really making us look at how close the Daleks we can and sometimes to become. The sharpest barbs resonant through with the President of the British empire (superlatively played by Martin Jarvis). Indeed, you may find that some of the observations and actions of this character have become scarily more pertinent now than they were when this story was originally produced.

And yet, it all goes a bit sideways once we get to episode four. Honestly, the first three episodes set such a high bar that it would be difficult for any conclusion to do it all justice.

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